A woman from West London is preparing to run the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
Louise Viisminas, 49 and from Hayes, is taking on the 13.1 mile challenge as part of a wider fitness regime that has seen her lose an astonishing 52 kilos, more than eight stone, since February 2016. She explains: “I ended up having a few health issues and eventually came to the realisation that it had to stop. Something needed to change and that’s when I decided to start improving my fitness.
“I’m now in a place where I’ve constantly got to challenge myself. I do the park run every week, which is 5k, and also took part in a charity walk last September. I ended up covering 7k in 50 minutes, and then thought, why not starting running?”
Louise, who works as a Workshop Administrator for a road markings company, is no stranger to the military world. She explains: “My uncle died in Dunkirk aged just 21. I also have one nephew who Served in the Royal Air Force and another uncle who was a Desert Rat.
“I wanted to join the Royal Artillery and drive tanks myself, but unfortunately it never quite happened! I was still able to be in the Army Cadets from 13 to 19 and absolutely loved it. The annual camps were amazing; just being able to get out and do something different every time. It was hard work, but great fun.”
Louise first came across the charity on Facebook, while she herself has seen the profound impact that blindness can have on someone’s life. She explains: “My dad’s eyesight began to deteriorate later on in life and in the end he was rendered almost completely blind. I know just how isolated people can feel and so I fully appreciate just how important the services provided by Blind Veterans UK are. While I think I could cope with any disability, I honestly don’t think I could cope with losing my sight. The bravery of the veterans this charity supports is truly inspirational.”
Louise, who is originally from Berinsfield, Hertfordshire, has enlisted the help of a personal trainer who’s been helping her continue her incredible fitness regime. She says: “I’ve been working with her for a couple of months now and she’s been fantastic. She’s got me doing core work and lots of cardio, making sure we’re keeping track of my resting rate and things like that. I’ve just completed a 17k run too which went well.
“This half marathon is a huge challenge for me as I’ve never been a runner of any kind of distance before, but I know I’ll get through it and it’ll all be worth it! For anyone thinking about doing something similar, I’d say just do it and make sure you have fun. Raising money for any charity doesn’t have to be hard work, it can be the most amazing fun and and incredibly rewarding experience.”
To support Louise as she prepares to take on the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon, please visit: justgiving.com//Lou-Visminas
The Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon is one of the most popular events in the UK, taking you through Hyde Park, Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens. For a registration fee of £30 and a minimum sponsorship pledge of £300, participants can still sign up to run on behalf of Blind Veterans UK. Visit blindveterans.org.uk/royal-parks to find out how you can get involved.
Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 and the charity’s initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in the First World War. But the organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning WWII to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan. They have set the ambitious target to double the number of veterans receiving its life changing support to over 8,000 by 2022.
For more than a century, the charity has been providing vital free training, rehabilitation, equipment and emotional support to blind and vision-impaired veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight. Visit blindveterans.org.uk/support to learn more about the charity and how you can support its vital work today.
For all media enquiries please contact: Felix Arbenz-Caines, PR Assistant, Blind Veterans UK, 12 – 14 Harcourt Street, London, W1H 4HD, E: Felix.Arbenz-Caines@blindveterans.org.uk, T: 020 7616 7941
Blind Veterans UK
Blind Veterans UK is a national charity that believes that no-one who has served our country should have to battle blindness alone. Founded in 1915, the charity provides blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women with lifelong support including welfare support, rehabilitation, training, residential and respite care.